Detroit Tigers 40-man Preview: Grossman Heats Up Spring Training

Detroit Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman flies out during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians Sunday, April 4, 2021 at Comerica Park.Tigers Clev3
Detroit Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman flies out during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians Sunday, April 4, 2021 at Comerica Park.Tigers Clev3 /

Switch-hitter Robbie Grossman ended the 2021 season on a high and it’s obvious he brought the heat right back to Spring Training this year.

In 2008, Grossman was drafted in the 6th round, 174th overall out of Cy-Fair High School by the Pittsburgh Pirates during MLB’s Amateur Draft in June of that year. After a few short contracts and stints in the minors, Grossman demonstrated his ability as a potent switch-hitter with the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. It wasn’t until his time with the Oakland Athletics that he really came into his own before ultimately signing with the Detroit Tigers.

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Grossman joined the Detroit Tigers in January 2021 after electing to try free agency with the Oakland Athletics. He quickly became a clubhouse leader, fan favorite and one of the better off-season signings for the Tigers that year.

Just last season, Grossman made Tigers history, becoming only the 7th player within the club to have 20 plus home runs, stolen bases, and doubles in one season. With 23 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 23 doubles, Grossman had a career-year of his nine-years spent in MLB.

Robbie Grossman Contract Status

In 2021, Grossman earned $5 million, and a $500,000 incentive based on plate appearances as per his contract details via Spotrac and is signed through 2022, earning another $5 million. Grossman’s contract specifies that for 500 and 550 plate appearances, he would earn an additional $250,000 each. After his two-year contract with the Tigers, earning an approximate $10.5 million, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

Robbie Grossman’s Game

Over the course of his time spent in the Majors, Grossman slashed a career .250/.352/.386, a seemingly below-average slash line and 9.4 bWAR.

In 2021, Grossman batted .239/.357/.415 with the Tigers compared to a slightly better .241/.344/.482 with Oakland in 2020, but he improved his BB% from 10.9 to 14.6% in 2021.

While still with the A’s, Grossman modified his left-handed swing making seemingly minor adjustments, which proved to produce big effects at bat. The adjustments provided more power and pull in his swing at the plate.

The switch-hitting Grossman brings an added flexibility to the Tigers hitting lineup. Although Grossman favors the left side of the plate, having the ability to bat from both sides gives Grossman and the Tigers the advantage to change the complexion of the game and use him more effectively in the lineup.

As previously mentioned, Grossman has reached career highs in home runs and doubles with the Tigers and is projected to achieve similar numbers in 2022. In the first two games of the 2022 Spring Training games, Grossman already exceeded expectations knocking in two home runs, two hits and three RBI in five plate appearances, indicating that he’s ready for game day.

ZiPS 2022 Projection

PA: 571 HR: 17 R: 71 RBI: 56 AVG: .243 OBP: .349 SLG: .408 BB%: 13.1 K%: 22.2

My Take

Is he one of the best outfielders in MLB?

No, but Grossman has arguably made improvements to his game that make him more effective at bat and on the field.

In a video posted to the Detroit Tigers YouTube channel, Grossman discusses the need to always find something in his game that “needs to be improved.” He’s studied, tweaked, and improved his game to produce better on field plays and brings a winning mentality to the younger players in Detroit and it shows.

Having that “expectation” to improve, shows that Grossman has proven to be a capable leader in the clubhouse on and off the field with a willingness to rally behind the younger teammates to propel them to a strong 2022 season, individually and as a team.